Scandal-ridden Seattle strip club to shut down


by Associated Press and Staff

Posted on April 28, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 28 at 5:44 PM

SEATTLE - Three associates of Seattle strip club boss Frank Colacurcio Sr. have pleaded guilty to racketeering- and prostitution-related charges as part of a deal that will result in four notorious clubs - including "Rick's" in Seattle - being shut down or demolished.

The guilty pleas came Wednesday in federal court after Judge Richard A. Jones questioned the defendants and their lawyers. The men are avoiding prison time and fines and will shut down the clubs May 5.

"Today we put an end to the corrupt criminal organization that made millions by exploiting young women," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "These businesses were a blight on our community. We are shutting them down for good.  The clubs will all be seized or demolished."

"This is not about a crackdown in adult entertainment," said Seattle Police Asst. Chief Jim Pugel. "This is about dismantling a criminal enterprise that generated millions of dollars regardless of the human cost."

Honey's in Everett will be demolished. Rick's in Seattle will be turned over to the government. Sugar's in Shoreline has already been shut down, and Fox's, which is located on leased property near Tacoma, will also be shut down.

The associates who pleaded guilty are Leroy Richard Christiansen, David Carl Ebert and Steven Michael Fueston. The three are owners of the limited liability companies that operated the clubs. Christiansen, 68, and Ebert, 62, pleaded guilty to racketeering-related charges while Fueston, 62, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of conspiracy to permit prostitution near a military establishment.

The men, all high school droputs, will avoid prison time, but are taking a heavy monetary hit. The four clubs are estimated to be worth $4.5 million. They also agreed under the deal that they would never again have a role in the adult entertainment industry in Washington state.

"These plea agreements reflect serious and detailed negotiations," Jeff Robinson, a lawyer for one of the men, wrote in the court filing. "All parties have made compromises to reach agreements that are fair to the government, fair to the defendants and consistent with the interests of justice."

Federal agents say the three men, along with Colacurcio, Sr., 93, and Frank Colacurcio, Jr., 48, conspired to force club dancers to sell sex in order to pay hefty payments to club managers and keep their jobs. Other criminal activity alleged to have taken place included money laundering and mail fraud.

Racketeering charges are pending against the Colacurcios, who have pleaded not guilty. The Colacurcios' trial is set for January 2011. The case could be the final round in Colacurcio Sr.'s six-decade battle with the law.

The clubs have been a law enforcement target for years - even before the infamous Strippergate scandal in 2003 when the Colacurcios secretly funneled campaign contributions to three Seattle city council members who were considering their request to expand the Rick's parking lot.

The son of a King County farmer, Colacurcio Sr. entered the topless nightclub business after making a name for himself in Seattle's pinball industry in the 1950s. He was identified as a racketeer in hearings before a U.S. Senate organized crime committee in 1957 and has periodically served time for racketeering and tax convictions.